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23 February, 2017

Commit Samantha - The Fallen

Commit Samantha - The Fallen (song review) |self-released, 2016| 4/5 alt-rock

Mixing alternative rock with exotic sounds always gives a song an intriguing atmosphere. This is exactly the sonic idea behind 'The Fallen', written by the Bostonian quintet working together as Commit Samantha. 'The Fallen' is a multi-layered track with many instrumental parts placed in sync, which are wisely distributed within a less complex composition. Fans of Godsmack, Tool, Alice in Chains or Stone Temple Pilots (but not only) should get in gear with this vibe right away.

Initially however, listeners will be gently guided into the song with said exotic vibe, where the only dominant element is a beat played on a hand drum. The voice of Kon, which comes next is characterized by a nice & light, masculine timbre. The vocals are nicely balanced, distanced and a bit detached in a non-emotional way, except for a few tense moments where the musicians scream all together.
The deep drums (Mike Stanislovitis), bass (Grant Harris), and guitars build an advanced structure for the song, exposing the listeners to its entirety within the next four minutes. The band has two lead guitar players in the current line-up: Jeff Peck and Mark Gorman; this allows for a wide variety of guitar riffs performed simultaneously. All musicians play their respective parts very well. It should be also mentioned that Commit Samantha invited Casey Young (who programmed & toured with YES) to layer an additional texture into their song.

The lyrical idea behind the track is an unattached analysis of Biblical Judas – the possible reasons behind his decisions, emphasizing destiny's path, default directions, and similar philosophical & spiritual issues. To quote a part of the lyrics: "We the chosen few / What more can we do / The future has begun / A truth we can't outrun” (…) No choice in the matter / It's perfectly clear / The pathway is chosen / No innocence here." Despite the subject matter, it's not Christian music at all.

'The Fallen' brings an intellectual (rather than rebellious) mood, which definitely helps with focusing on individual instrumental parts. The whole track was mixed by Pete Doell at Universal Music, based on the band's own studio recordings. The song however still feels like a cleaner version of a live recording due to the additional ambiance - the sound 'leaks' slightly, thus possibly causing some purists to sniff disapprovingly. It's not a biggie though, since the arrangements clearly speak in favour of the band's creative potential.
Make sure you give Commit Samantha constructive feedback via their social profiles, see them live during the incoming shows, and buy their music. This should encourage the band to continue on their enlightened path of creative & philosophical escapism.

(Reviewer: Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Industrial Rock & Metal Encyclopedia, February 23rd, 2017. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

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22 February, 2017

Malice Machine - Digital Scars

Malice Machine – Digital Scars |self-released, 2017| 5/5 industrial rock, industrial metal

1. Welcome to the Machine, 2. My Virus, 3. We Breed Insects, 4. Venom Me, 5. Digital Christ, 6. Defect, 7. Only the Void, 8. Slave Nation, 9. Infest, 10. End of Everything, 11. My Virus (Alternate Version), 12. Stripped, 13. N.W.O

Industrial rock and metal music (called 'old-school' these days) fell out of the mainstream after Y2K. Due to this, die hard fans of these genres have had a difficulty finding many releases which could satisfy their picky tastes. Luckily however, the NYC duo behind Malice Machine (Ammo - drums, drum programing, artwork; Sepsis - guitar, vocals, bass, programming, songwriting, production, mastering) got inspired by both the 1990s guitar-driven industrial sounds and modern electro/darkwave vibes. A great quality blend of these appears on their Digital Scars album released in 2017.

'Welcome to the Machine' is the first of three cover songs here, originally released by Pink Floyd. As the album intro, it perfectly suits the purpose since it's the shortest yet the most seductive track. Its slowly pulsating tempo allows listeners to calm down, before they enter the heart of the Machine. Factory-like beats and emotional guitars bring a variety of emotions such as love, longing and sadness – all expressed towards the device.

Most industrial musicians frequently pick up topics for their songs related to contamination, radiation, global epidemics, and a zombie-like apocalypse - probably inspired by the slew of 1980 & 90's horror s/f movies with these themes. Two versions of 'My Virus' appear on the album, but they don't differ much. The song is characterized by catchy choruses and melodious arrangements with the addition of edgy guitar riffs. It also sounds like Ammo & Sepsis were inspired here by KMFDM and Sasha Konietzko's voice. To put it bluntly, 'My Virus' is the first potential breakaway hit on the tracklist.

'We Breed Insects' is a truly mighty industrial metal piece, moving listeners deeply. The slow tempo amps up the heaviness of the sound here. The song's atmosphere brings to mind the image of a hidden predator tracking its prey from a hideout, then jumping out to hunt it down. The vocals are distorted, even screamed at times, and they often open up space for instrumental parts to shine. Amazing guitar riffs in the second part of the track are followed by and contrasted with an intriguing synth arrangement which gives the sensation of relief or success (in reference to the predator suggested above).

'Venom Me' is the second hit song on Digital Scars and will surely please industrial metal fans, specifically those in love with bands such as Ministry, Bile, or N17 amongst others. The song's mood feels very aggressive, and the rhythm is fast. The arrangements sit tightly within the composition, while the sound of guitars is angry, with riffs entwined with more accented bass lines. Finally, Sepsis' vocals are almost growled, matching the instruments really well.

There's something sexual going on at the beginning of 'Digital Christ', as you may judge by female moans ending in a climax. The vibrant, goa-trance-like drum beats programmed by Ammo dictate the rhythm and support Sepsis' vile vocals. The underlined beats, danceable dynamics, easily memorable lyrics, cold synths, and edgy guitar riffs make the track another instant hit.

The dark and droning intro for 'Defect' is followed by predatory guitar riffs which additionally spin up the already tense dynamics. Invasive drums are entangled with harsh, slightly distorted vocals. A single, high pitched guitar line over rhythm guitars found at the end of the track creates an attractive contrast. Careful listeners may associate this song's specific vibe with early works of Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails.

'Only The Void' is another industrial metal track with strong electro & goa-trance influences that utilizes both heavier guitar riffs and synths. The song's chorus is memorable, but the vocals fade away a bit behind the synth & drums. 'Slave Nation' is a potential hit as well, and certainly a must-have if you like spinning around inside a spiral of sounds. The track is full of looped heavy guitar riffs, darkwave synths, and industrial noises, all wrapped up into melodic arrangements and a danceable rhythm.

'Infest' in its entirety can help purging personal demons very well. As many NIN fans may recognize, the opening drum part is a straight-forward tribute to the band that brought industrial rock into the mainstream in the 90s. The song deals an aggressive, aroused vibe from the very beginning, which is then supported with a lovely wall of sounds in the third part of the composition, and followed by a neat tempo slow-down. The arrangements are spiced up with guitar riffs that the majority of industrial metal fans should admire at once.

On a different note, 'End of Everything' may be a real teaser/pleaser for lovers of electro-industrial and darkwave. Bouncy beats encourage listeners to dance without hesitation, but if you dislike dancing, this track is great for an intense fitness workout too. Skillfully written arrangements are equally distributed within the entire composition, leaving enough space for both lyrics and instrumental parts.

The original synth-driven song 'Stripped' was written by Depeche Mode. Once it became a global hit, many other bands challenged themselves to make cover versions. Malice Machine turned the track into an angry industrial rock piece through metal riffs, strongly accented drums, and twisted vocals, but obviously keeping the original song's notable attributes.

The album ends with the last cover song - Ministry's 'N.W.O.'. Malice Machine's version doesn't alter the track too much, probably to keep its famous, genuine vibe alive. Honestly, we should be thankful for such very few sound manipulations here - every industrial music fan who sees the 'N.W.O.' title will actually hear in their head a replaying memory of the iconic looped chorus: 'a new world order'. It would probably be risky to 'desecrate' it ;)

Some people worship gods, but these two musicians faithfully praise the Machine. Thirteen compositions which make for a 1 hour long album are filled with a variety of angry, dehumanized, industrialized, and 'math-mechanical' arrangements. Therefore, Digital Scars may help younger listeners discover primary industrial rock/metal characteristics, but also easily identify with some emotions brought by the classic sounds present on this release. Older fans, tired of spinning the same industrial albums over and over again, may find a few new sonic gems here. In any case, make sure you buy this release, since it is definitely worth the price of admission. Only with your help can the duo break through the corroded walls of a forgotten and largely unsupported scene and continue expressing their passion for 'the Machine' by releasing another set of songs sometime soon.

(Reviewer: Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Industrial Rock & Metal Encyclopedia, February 21st, 2017. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

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Reviewed by Fabryka Industrial Rock & Metal Encyclopedia

19 February, 2017

State of Being - Signs

State of Being - Signs (song review) |self-released, The Misinformation Age, 2016| 4/5 electronic rock

State of Being are an electronic-industrial rock band from Cleveland, OH. I met them on Myspace in 2005 when social networking, self-promotion, and HTML customization were not only allowed, but also actually fun. SOB released their debut album in 1995, followed by an EP and three other full length releases until 2005. They played a variety of US shows back then, supporting well known industrial rock acts such as Pigface, My Life with The Thrill Kill Kult, or Kill Hannah. However, as many die hard industrial fans may admit, industrial rock music started fading away after Y2K. Therefore, Christopher Foldi (the founder) put the band on hiatus for 10 years, occasionally producing remixes and playing with his new band Frigid Touch.

Industrial music hasn't returned to its mainstream position since then, but nowadays bands can find better on-line opportunities to promote and sell their songs. It seems that this encouraged Christopher to resurrect SOB by focusing on lighter electronic music, and give it a shot by releasing The Misinformation Age - a new album in 2017.
The nine brand new songs were inspired by: the increasing divide between the darkness and the light within human civilization, provocative media, political & religious manipulations ('fake news'), attempts of stealing & destroying the land of indigenous people (the Standing Rock protests) - just to mention a few sources. Despite such alarming themes, the music on the album is free of distress.

As an example, the fifth song on the tracklist (entitled 'Signs') brings deep bouncy beats mixed with a steam release-like sound, and a low-profile guitar. Foldi's vocals, fitting within these arrangements very well, can be recognized by any careful listener who heard him sing before. His voice holds pessimistic and optimistic timbres at the same time, with one in 'control' and balancing the other. The dark tone is something you can find in goth & darkwave vocals, the more positive one fits pop music.
Both verses and choruses are extremely catchy, which should make it easy even for a child to sing along. In addition, the unstoppable drum beats are wisely contrasted with pitched synth sounds. The idea to prevent sameness is remarkable here, because it's well known that human ears find sonic contrasts entertaining. All this makes 'Signs' a highly danceable track supported by colorful, vibrant dynamics. An interesting, perhaps cartoon-like video could be made to illustrate the song further.

All these 'signs' and shifts we've been witnessing on many recent occasions speak for our world's re-design and they will certainly awake those who are still spiritually asleep. We all know one truth however - the light will prevail in the end. If you feel overwhelmed by the gloom seen on the TV, then perhaps listening to this song may brighten your mind for four and a half minutes.

(Reviewer: Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Industrial Rock & Metal Encyclopedia, February 15th, 2017. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

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Merrin - Sin

Merrin - Sin (song review) |self-released, single, 2016| 5/5 blues, rock

Merrin entered 2017 with a new line-up as well as a bit of a changed sound, yet they've kept all former innuendos within both music and lyrics. The melody of their brand new track 'Sin' sounds very radio-friendly - as much as that of the band's previous song, 'Mr. Dominant' (which was later supported by a steamy, high quality music video single - find it on YouTube).

'Sin' opens with a blues'n'rock guitar riff (by Karl Wootton) and a gently jingled tambourine. They are then followed by the bold, cheeky, and instantly memorable voice of Charlie Phillips. Having a golden asset like this means it will always allow the singer to contribute to a variety of genres with success. When drums (by Richard Maxwell Jr) and bass (by Logan Wood, the new member) join next, they bring up a steady line of dynamics, and therefore leave no doubts that the track is an insta-hit. Guitars are reinforced by the other new member, Angelo Pantelakis (on lead guitar).

When it comes to arrangements, it seems they were written with a classical rock'n'blues structure in mind. Verses and choruses are easy enough to remember from the first listening for a proper sing-along with the vocalist. This obviously makes 'Sin' accessible for the majority of listeners around the world and definitely makes it fun during live performances. The song's composition is also not too complicated, with said arrangements distributed throughout evenly and an occasional guitar twist to shake the relaxed rhythm up a bit. All musicians here perform their parts dynamically. Again, Charlie's dominating alto entangles with all instrumental tracks, vibrating nicely within, and thus boosting every sound.

The mood and energy here are confident, direct, open, and positive. The down to earth lyrics talk of an episode in a shady bar: a woman drinks tequila, meets a man, then they both follow an increasing desire to know each other better and deeper. Yet it seems this event leaves her feeling guilty when she sobers up: “See this half empty bottle, holds bad memories / Head face down in the dirt / Cos I’m addicted to the misery / Like a fallen angel”.

'Sin' clocks in at 3 minutes and its length along with the catchy vibe make it a great fit for lots of music opportunities in need of a strong, melodic accent. The song is currently only released and available to buy on tour for Merrin's fans, however it'll be globally available with a complete music video around June 2017. Merrin plans on playing a few performances in New Zealand (where the band originates from) this year. Make sure to check out their official website & Facebook page for the schedule.

(Reviewer: Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Industrial Rock & Metal Encyclopedia, February 15th, 2017. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

Read also: Merrin 'Mr. Dominant' song review.

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Reviewed by Fabryka Industrial Rock & Metal Encyclopedia